25. June 2012 05:40
This morning my father and three of his friends set off on a 6-day trip around the state of New Jersey. Their plan is to travel an average of 72 miles per day, visiting each of New Jersey's 21 counties. That doesn't sound like much until you consider that they're making this trip on bicycles.
There is no entourage of "sag wagons" and water-tossers along the way, no barricades to keep traffic off the streets on which they'll travel, and with the exception of the 20 miles of the route that I personally checked last week, no advance notice about potholes, rough shoulders, or road construction. There is no corporate sponsorship, no yellow jersey. This is not the Tour de France.
The only thing my dad and his friends will race against is the threat of thunderstorms and the blistering heat predicted for later this week. Temperatures on the last three days of the tour are forecasted to be over 90°--not the kind of weather you want when you're riding a bike. I'll be watching the weather, and worrying until my mom calls each evening to tell me that Dad has checked in and is safe. On Thursday, when they stop for the night a few miles from my home, I'll drive over to bring them all here for a home-cooked meal; Friday morning the kids and I will cheer them on as they pass about a mile from our house. Ten might even bring signs!
Everything 4 men need for 6 days will be carried in saddlebags on their bicycles. And yes, he'll wear a helmet. He's a stickler about those.
In honor of the start of my dad's trip, I've got a coupon from one of his favorite suppliers of bikes, bicycle parts, helmets and clothing: Bike Nashbar is offering an extra 20% off their Last Chance Bargains through tomorrow, June 26!